Real Wedding | Nancy & Jim

This wedding looks so personal and so F-U-N.  Southern comfort food, a Ben & Jerry’s station and his and her pinatas….no doubt the guests are still remembering this lovely wedding and the great time they all had!

Nancy & Jim | July 4, 2010 | Freedom Park in Charlotte, North Carolina

How he proposed
He had been ring shopping for some time but had become discouraged by the process.  We lived together and every night before going to sleep we would kiss and hug each other good night.  So three days before Valentine’s Day, after hugging me good night, he chose to seize a perfect moment rather than wait until he had a ring.  He looked at me and smiled and simply asked “Will you marry me?”  It was sweet, heartfelt, genuine and absolutely perfect.

The ceremony
We chose to have our wedding on July 4, 2010 both because it was the day after my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, which we thought would be good luck for us ,and also because July 4th is such a fun, celebratory day that it we thought it would convey the type of atmosphere we wanted at our wedding.   We decided early on that what was most important to us was to have a wedding that was intimate, casual, fun and represented us as a couple.  We kept the traditions we wanted and didn’t worry about the rest.  The ceremony was held in Charlotte’s most beautiful park underneath a weeping willow tree on a small island in the middle of a lake.  We chose to walk down the aisle together holding hands and were surrounded by our closest friends and immediate family for the ceremony which one of our dearest friends officiated.

The reception
For our reception we chose all of our favorite Southern comfort foods from the restaurants around town that make those items the best. including pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, potato salad and hushpuppies.  After dinner everyone moved outside to the patio where we had Ben and Jerry’s set up their ice cream cart.


For entertainment there was music, sparklers, lawn games and three piñatas that we had specially made for us . . . one for my husband (filled with his favorites, beef jerky and twizzlers), one for me (filled with my favorites, Reese’s Cups and Hershey’s Kisses) and one for everyone else.

The moment Nancy will never forget
I will absolutely never forget how much fun we and everyone else had laughing at us trying to beat open the piñatas, how hilarious my husband was when he finally just ripped off the head of his piñata, and the look of shock on my dad’s face when all of the beef jerky inside the piñata came flying in his direction.

Splurges & Savings
Aside from having our closest friends and family there, there were two things I was most concerned with . . . the dress and the photographer.  We were fully prepared to splurge on photography, but because our amazing photographer, Christopher Record, agreed to come for an abbreviated amount of time and charge us a bit less, I was able to spend a little more on my dress.  I loved my dress, and we ended up with absolutely beautiful wedding pictures that we will treasure forever as well.

In order to be able to splurge a little on those things, but keep to our small budget, we chose to do everything else ourselves except the catering.  We scoured the internet for the cheapest linens, designed and put together our own invitations, created a paper lantern chandelier, sewed table runners and bunting, baked hundreds of cookies and brownies for out-of-town bags and made cupcake wrappers and paddle fans.  I cut and assembled hundreds of pinwheels as table decorations and to put into our flowers arrangements.  I did all of this using fabric that I loved and then copied that fabric onto paper to make the invitations, napkin rings, cupcake wrappers, out-of-town bags and all of the pinwheels.  The day before the wedding my mother-in-law and I put together all of our flower arrangements with flowers we had bought wholesale online from Sam’s Club and from the farmer’s market.  The flowers turned out beautifully and all the other decorations were whimsical and fun. . . just what we wanted.  It was a lot to do in four months, but we did it!

How she knew her wedding dress was “The One” – and why she decided to sell it
I had searched online at PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com before I bought a dress and was all set to buy a used dress.  I went in to a local bridal shop to try on some of the dresses that I loved from the site, but after trying on those 3 dresses and probably another 6 that the salesperson had suggested, I found my dress (Jim Hjelm 8663) and immediately knew it was the right one.  My best friend, who came with me to shop, started to cry when I put it on.  It was exactly what I had been looking for . . . light and airy, romantic and timeless.   It fit so perfectly that they didn’t even measure me; they just ordered the same size as the sample.  I chose to have my own sash made in navy from a seller on Etsy.com to match the engagement ring we picked out together (an exquisite blue sapphire and diamond ring).   Since the dress was more than I had intended to pay, I immediately decided I would go ahead and get it but sell it after the wedding, both to help cover some of the cost and to help a future bride be able to realize her dream of wearing such a beautiful dress.

Her advice for other brides
Plan the wedding that you and your fiancé want and that represents you and no one else.  Try not to feel pressured to do what other people have done before or to do what your family and friends expect of you.  Our wedding was different in many ways from other weddings we had been to, but I had so many people tell us they had never had more fun at a wedding.  Finally, have fun with the process and indulge your creativity, but don’t sweat the small stuff.  In the end, it won’t matter whether you had chair covers or whether your napkins are the perfect shade of green.  What will matter will be the happiness that shines through in the smiles on your faces that will forever be captured in your pictures.


Nancy’s Wedding Dress: Jim Hjelm 8663

Photography: Christopher Record

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One Response to Real Wedding | Nancy & Jim

  1. Jennifer P says:

    I’m going on my 2nd year in the photography industry and am learning new stuff continually, like this post – thanks for this blog. Jen